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Steve Lunetta: Always looking down


I was sitting in front of a building in Burbank this morning having a cup of coffee. I’ll take five minutes in the morning and contemplate the day. That is when I noticed it.

In this five-minute period, someone honked at a car in front of them on three separate occasions, different cars, different drivers each time.

The honking drivers were not impatient. I noticed that each waited about 3-5 seconds before laying on the horn. Some folks would argue this is too short. I say no. Three seconds is more than enough time to lift your foot off the brake and put it on the accelerator – if you are paying attention.

There was one common factor in each of the “honkings.” The driver being honked at had their heads down. Now, I can’t be 100 percent certain but my guess is that each one was messing with their cellphones. Those stinking cellphones.

I’ve noticed that many drivers have this habit today, regardless of the cell phone law. It does not seem to be much of a deterrent. Apple has this thing that blocks incoming messages while driving but it’s easy to lie to the phone and say “I’m not driving.”

Yes, I’ve done it too. This column is written more to me than anyone else. However, I do try and abstain from cell phone use while driving. But, what a temptation!

I got to thinking about how this cellphone problem is like our lives today. We spend so much time looking down, absorbed in our own little world, influenced by like-minded people, and developing a world view that is, at best, myopic.

We don’t lift up our heads and look around. We don’t see the world outside and place it in context so that we can see dangers, obey laws, and be courteous to others. We just keep looking down until someone has to lay on a horn behind us.

But we argue, “I can’t miss this call” or “I was waiting for that text”. Is anything really that urgent? Not so long ago, we had phones that were connected to a wall. There were no phones in cars. Heck, there were not even any answering machines. You had to “catch” people at home.

Or, you had to rely on a dumb teenager to take a message (which they rarely ever did) because teens were the only ones that hung near a phone.

Anything important had to come through the mail. No, not email. Real mail. The person that walked up to our house (and we knew their name) who delivered the post with a smile every day.

Today, we probably know the UPS or FedEx person better since we buy everything off Amazon.

Doesn’t all of this isolate us more and not bring us together? That guy honking behind us wants to get to where he’s going and we don’t seem to care much. Our world that is contained in that little black box is far more important than that noisy goober behind us.

Maybe that guy could be our friend. In a different circumstance, he would offer us a hand of friendship and maybe sit down to talk over a cup of coffee.

Now, because he is honking at us, we assume that he is the reincarnation of Adolph Hitler. Or Nancy Pelosi.

I think it’s a very human propensity to act with hostility to anything that is outside of our little world. We immediately assume it is wrong and evil – our world is true and right and good.

Anger should not be our first reaction but an attempt to seek to understand. When we see something on CNN or Fox that is clearly intended to fire up emotions, we need to look up and see what the rest of the traffic is doing.

Truth be told, the media would love nothing more than to see us get into an accident. By keeping our heads down, it increases the chances of something bad happening which increases eyeballs.

I need to remind myself more often that I need to see other folk’s perspective. Let’s keep our eyes on the world around us and not on that blasted cell phone.

Steve Lunetta is a resident of Santa Clarita and is lousy at interpreting signals, especially from his wife. He can be reached at [email protected].

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